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Walter Schreifels Took a Disposable Camera to Quicksand’s House of Vans Show and Here’s What He Came Up With

(Although, in fairness, his 8-year-old daughter took most of them.)

It’s hot in the House of Vans. It’s always hot in the House of Vans, but tonight it’s hotter. The high this afternoon was 91 degrees and everyone’s skin has a glisten to it. As the July sun was setting over New York, hardcore legends Converge took the stage at the Brooklyn venue/skate spot and literally warmed up the crowd. Their aggressive pit-prone fans added several layers of humidity to an already sweaty room. By the time Quicksand went on, it was like being inside of an armpit. It wasn’t the hottest show frontman Walter Schreifels can recall, though.


“In my hardcore days, I played in furnaces. CBs would get very hot. I’m thinking of an Agnostic Front show where I remember thinking that I might die,” he says. “In Youth of Today, the whole thing was to go as sick as you could possibly go, so no matter what, it was hot. It was like bikram yoga.”

Schreifels is shirtless, with a towel draped over his shoulders, and covered in sweat. I reach into my pocket for an index card on which I’d written some questions to ask him, but I pull it out to reveal a soggy, illegible handful of paper-like goop. Oh well.

After a over a decade apart, Schreifels’ 90s post-hardcore band Quicksand became active again in 2012 for a Revelation Records 25th anniversary show. They’ve been playing shows and festivals here and there for the last few years. Schreifels took a disposable camera with him to document this one-off show. In fairness, though, his 8-year-old daughter, Rio, did most of the snapping while we caught up with him about iconic band photos, skateboarding, and how Brooklyn’s changed, man.

Noisey: Old hardcore records always had these great photos in them. Sometimes you could just see the photo of a band without having heard them and want to know everything about them. Was there anything you saw that prompted you to explore?
Walter Schreifels: Yeah, a lot of it. A lot of the hardcore records I got were from a few years earlier, so a lot of those bands were already gone. I was 15 when I got those. So for me, to go to the city to the Lower East Side and go to those shows to buy them, that was something I had to do without telling mom. Minor Threat’s In My Eyes was one. The gatefold of Victim in Pain, that was kind of amazing. The back cover of I Against I, I think was a live photo from the Rock Hotel. From one image, it was looking at each person. Like, I remember Sick of It All’s first album had a piece of broken glass and each shard had a person on it. You could look at each one and get into what it is. I think that was a really cool thing about that time. Your mind had to do all that work.


Before the internet, there were so many records I remember buying because they looked cool, and sometimes they were bad, but you just had to live with that decision.
Yes. For the money that it cost and the effort, you just had to be like, “I will fucking like this record.”

Right. “I will find some redeemable quality about this third-wave ska record.”
Yeah. I really wanted a Circle Jerks record, and I bought Wonderful, because that was the one that was there. [shakes head no]

You’re an old-school New York guy. You live in Brooklyn. How have you noticed the city changing?
I remember my first friends who moved to [Williamsburg]. I was like, “What is wrong with you, dude? This neighborhood is awful.” This was in the late 80s. Alex from Gorilla Biscuits and Porcell from Youth of Today moved over. They were on North 8th, and there was nothing here. There was [the diner] Kellogg’s and maybe a deli on Bedford. It was just dead. Nothing cool about it. But now, I think it’s almost more radical with the building going on now. People want to move to Brooklyn, right? So the people that have money are moving into Brooklyn, but in this area there are so many blank patches. They’re making it up as they go along. They’re not joining something, they’re creating something. And you can stand back and say, “This is bullshit,” or you can say, “Wow, shit’s really happening.”

But does it get to the point where it’s too much creation, to where it gets too expensive to exist here?
Well, it’s too expensive, yeah. It sucks. I’ve just had my apartment for a long time. I’ve been here for probably six or seven years, but my wife’s been here for like, 13 or 14. But I love it, it’s great. The people who are coming here are creative types. I find it alright.


When you think of 80s hardcore, and the person that came out of that scene, you always imagine the aggressive dude who wanted to swing and throw fists. But you seem like much more of a pensive guy. How do you reconcile those two things?
I liked the music. And at that time, I was at an age where punk was cool. I wanted to do something else. I didn’t want to do what was happening at my high school. I wanted to be counter to that. I wanted to dress cooler. I just wanted to be something else. Hardcore sounded like the worst kind of music you could listen to. It just appealed to me. There was a scene and you could just make a band and play. You could see a path from the audience to the stage, and that was exciting. I liked the aggression of the music, but wasn’t aggressive in my own attitude. I’m not a bully or anything.

You grew up with skateboarding, right?
I skated, I was never good, though. I had fun doing it. I was better than some people, but mostly worse than most people.

Are you one of those guys like me who looks at those ramps out there and swears they could still do a kickflip?
No! Absolutely not. Would not even fuck with it. I broke my ankle at some point skateboarding and I went to my first semester at Hunter College with crutches. I was like, “I’m never doing any radical shit ever again.” I got into longboarding for a bit when I lived in Park Slope. Then I met someone at a party and they were like, “You’re the longboarding guy!” And I was like, “Oh God, I guess I am.”


Gorilla Biscuits played here a couple years ago. Quicksand played tonight. How does Vans keep getting you back?
I guess I’m pretty connected to skateboarding culture in a fucking awesome way. Because I remember when I was a kid, Vans were not available. I grew up in Rockaway Beach, which is a surf community. You couldn’t even get them there. When my family took me out to California, I got a pair of red checkered slip-ons. I wanted the black ones, desperately, but couldn’t find them. So I got the red ones and I got so abused for wearing them in Rockaway.

So when is the Rival Schools show happening here?
I would love to. Although we’re maybe more of an opening act.